I was privileged to speak at GaGa’s funeral in Baton Rouge — no, not “Lady GaGa,” but the first GaGa: Marjorie Mims. She was a 94 year old aunt who quietly slipped away in her sleep. She was an amazing woman who was hopelessly devoted to her husband and three children. Uncle Jimmy died young and GaGa never remarried.
She was remarkable: all-in in everything she did and in every relationship she had. She was gracious, kind, thoughtful, and was “there” at every moment she needed to be for all those in her life. That came naturally for her. She left a trail of friends and family members who were as hopelessly committed to GaGa as GaGa was to them. That was no surprise to anyone.
At the funeral, I could not help but use as a Scripture text Genesis 8:22. Feel free to read it, but I’ll summarize it: after the great flood, God promised Noah that as long as Earth existed, He would never destroy it by another flood. Further, there will always be night and day, Summer and Winter, hot and cold, and seedtime and harvest.
The first three seemed to me to be sort of “Mother Nature” things: light, seasons, hot and cold. But the fourth really made me think. Of course we know that every living thing comes from another of its kind: plants, animals, bugs, and babies! But thinking through that seedtime and harvest reference, something dawned on me: there’s more to its meaning than just planting crops.
It seems “Ho-Hum” to talk much about the planting and harvesting process. You plant a seed and something grows from it. That’s how we eat; that’s how golf greens grass grows; that’s how animals eat; that’s how plants breathe in the CO2 that we breathe out. It call comes from planting. But it goes beyond that.
I feel that God absolutely referenced the Mother Nature sow and reap process — but not that alone. He made it clear to Noah that men and women sow and reap everyday, even if we do not do so into the ground. We “speak” and “do” seeds. We plant “seeds” in everything we do regarding others and everything we say to others. And the soil into which we sow is seldom actual dirt — it is peoples’ lives. Those seeds become exactly what their parent seeds were. And we always reap what we sow.
Understanding the sowing process is pretty fundamental. Understanding the reaping/harvesting process is too. But far too often we either do not want to think about that part, talk about that part, or accept that part. But it ALWAYS happens as part of that natural process God put in place and promised would never go away. We reap what we sow.
Too often people simply ignore the definitive result of this natural process. We selectively use it thinking it only applies to others. We may term it “what goes around comes around,” or “get back what you put in.” Oh, we know that when we plant a seed something is going to grow. But we most often ignore the fact that when we plant orange seeds, oranges always grow. We assume sometimes when we plant oranges, apples are going to grow. But we get oranges — EVERYTIME we plant orange seeds. We never get apples…unless we plant apples.
Here’s the rub: too often we concentrate totally on the sowing process. We plant what at that very moment we want to plant without thinking of what is going to grow from it. Think this through with me.
When we argue with our spouses, we plant seed there. When we put our spouse down we seldom (if ever) think about what that seed is going to return as. It always comes back as what was sown: demeaning and condescending actions and words. God forbid that any would ever tell children they are stupid, ugly, unworthy, unable, etc. But when we slip and those seeds are sown, they always come back exactly what they were when we sowed them. It may take some time, but they always grow. And orange seeds ALWAYS grow into oranges.
If we cheat, we will be cheated. If we lie, we will be lied to. If we steal, we will be stolen from. If we are unfaithful to our spouses, they will be unfaithful to us.
I have a friend who was unfaithful to his wife. H was involved for years with someone else. I once confronted him with the fact that his doing so was going to cost him. He actually told me he knew there would be a price to pay, but he thought it would be having a bad year financially, having serious car problems or an illness, never thinking about the reap and sow principle.
Sure enough, his wife eventually left him for another. His children totally rejected him and remain separated from him even now as adults.
GaGa understood this principle and embraced it as part of who she was. She was quietly confident that everything she did would always return to her. Her funeral service bore that out.
I had a life mentor who surprised me once by asking this question: “Dan, who is coming to your funeral?” The question took me by surprise. I thought it through for a bit and responded, “My friends and my family members.” He then said this, “You need to spend the rest of your life pouring yourself into their lives.”
That has guided me ever since that day. It really works. And of course when I first recognized it I was surprised. But every time we get what we give.
GaGa was always there with kindness, gentleness, genuine care and concern for all — especially for her children and grandchildren.
Two Sundays ago GaGa went to sleep with her youngest daughter rubbing her feet. GaGa spent her life sowing seeds of kindness, care, and concern into others. At the end, that’s exactly what she got back.